Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

The Antidote to Disappointment Management

Posted by flyingbk on 09/15/2016

Let’s rewind 20 years (sadly, it’s been that long). I’m a senior at Cresskill High School. It’s mid-December, and I’ve just been accepted early into Columbia University. Thus, the next couple months are marked by less working hard in school and more hanging out with friends- mainly in the form of supporting them at basketball games and wrestling matches, home and away. I’ve got a good jump shot, but yeah, I wasn’t on par athletically with most of my buddies.

Our basketball team was a small-school juggernaut. The Cougars won the league and the state sectional with breezy ease. I watched them win on the road against our arch rival, Bogota, by a score of 70-26 (an indelible score, and I still savor how dejectedly the Bogota players walked off the court). They even reached the Bergen Jamboree final, and were only down by six late to a Teaneck squad that featured guys who ranged from 6’0″ to 6’11’ (At least two guys, Michael Nurse and Peter Vignier, played Division 1 basketball). Our tallest guy was 6’2. In short, it was a season chock full of achievements.

Now, the wrestling squad. This was a group of guys who worked their butts off for the last six years. They exerted so much blood, sweat, tears, and chewing gum and spitting into garbage cans to help fashion Cresskill into a league contender. And this was their moment: Facing off against Becton for the league title. Alas, they fell short, but no worries for there was a rematch for the state sectional crown a couple weeks later. This victory would be the culmination of all their dedication and determination, and then we would all storm our home court in jubilation.

They lost that match, too. Afterwards, I walked into the locker room to see how my friends were doing. They sat at their lockers, teary-eyed and crestfallen. I’ll never forget the words of one of my good friends: “We worked so hard, and we have nothing to show for it.” Calling him inconsolable would be an understatement. In fact, the next day at school, he was present, only in bodily form. He literally didn’t say a word all day. That’s the result of an ocean of opportunity cost, lost and buried for good.

Last time, I wrote about why football coaches make poor decisions. And as is my wont, I tenuously connected the dots to decisions we make in life. Football coaches choose to punt or “take the points” because the fear of failure overwhelms. Therefore, better to manage the disappointment and trust in their (suspect) defense. Likewise, we massage our expectations and tamp them down. We forgo a variety of opportunity costs since few things are worse than putting in the time and energy and “losing.”

Therefore, as time goes on, many of us become deathly afraid of losing. We’re terrified of getting our hopes up for anything, and then being disappointed. We adopt the attitude “If it happens, great.” We excel in what I call “disappointment management.” We don’t want to live with hope because we fear loss and disappointment, and all the opportunity cost that comes with it. For some of us, it’s become so deeply ingrained that we couldn’t raise up our hopes– for that job or promotion, that dating relationship or improving our marriage, having another child, reaching financial stability or saving up enough for the future– even if we tried.

But thanks be to God. If we’re believers of Jesus Christ, we know the end from the beginning. The end is gold-medal guaranteed, as right as rain: God wins! God is victorious! The Bible says:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
-2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV

That’s why you and I can live our lives with great hope. Because Christ rose from the dead, and we know that we will live with him for eternity, we can take risks. We can fear no opportunity cost, no matter how time and energy-consuming. We can process and even mourn our losses and absorb great disappointment without allowing them to tarnish our outlook on life. We do not downplay or sugarcoat the trials, the tribulations, the struggles, the heartbreak, the pain. But we also don’t let them restrain the hope God has put in our hearts.

It’s still not easy; we’ve been conditioned for decades (exactly two for me, in fact). But I hope you’ll join me in actively fighting against the tide of disappointment management so that we can be that hope-filled people God has called us to be.

 

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2 Responses to “The Antidote to Disappointment Management”

  1. Anonymous said

    Amen!

  2. […] rejection, failure. In addition, I can see it all around me in my older friends. I see people managing their disappointment, armoring up against any kind of possible rejection or failure, and simply giving up on certain […]

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